Scarecrow stood resplendent and terrible in the moonlight with goblin gore spattered across his tattered vestments. These creatures had been repugnant things that squealed like pleading swine when he gutted them. One almost feels sorry for them. Almost…, he thought while staring down at an eviscerated goblin corpse. Death dulled eyes, still frozen in disbelief, stared up at him from above a mound of entrails. His own eyes still fiery red, Scarecrow bent down and retrieved the dead thing’s shield. It was small and cobbled together from uneven planks of reclaimed oak, but it sat well on his own wooden arm. He hoisted it into a defensive position and the relaxed before hoisting it again. He repeated the process a few times with an approving nod. He liked the weight and feel of it.
Armed with sickle and shield, Scarecrow stepped onto the back porch. His own knees creaked like floorboards as he climbed the steps and stood listening at the kitchen door. It was ajar and lolled gently in the night breeze. From within there came a clamor like the whole contents of the kitchen were being spilled out onto the floor. The corners of his jack-o-lantern mouth tipped down and his scowl deepened.
The kitchen was a scene of rampant chaos and destruction. Shards of clay, porcelain, and glass were all about like a jagged shore. They were washed with myriad unrecognizable fluids that mixed in swirled shades of gray upon the moonlit floor. The air smelled of preserves and brine and turning milk.
An island stood among the sea of debris in the form of a much-used table. Straw packed cartons of jars had been stacked upon it next to piles of serving silver. Among them sat a goblin looking corpulent in oversized ring mail. As Scarecrow watched from the door, the goblin waggled his fingers over a wooden carton, the tip of his fat tongue stabbing out from the corner of his mouth in anticipation. Seemingly at random, he selected a jar and held it up in the beam of moonlight that fell through kitchen window. He scrutinized the peach slices within for a few moments before peeling back the wax cloth top and taking a long deep sniff. Almost immediately, his face contorted into a look of absolute disgust and he hurled the jar across the room smashing it on the kitchen wall. Peach slices slid slowly down among rivulets of syrup. Then, for good measure, the puffy goblin tossed the whole carton to the floor with a grunt. The jars within shattered adding their glass and contents to the sea of destruction below.
As Scarecrow stepped in through the kitchen door, the goblin pulled a clay jug from one of the other cartons. He tugged the cork stopper out of the neck and took a delicate sniff. A look of absolute glee oozed over his cruel features with a smile that was not capable of looking anything but sinister even at its most elated.
The crunch of Scarecrow’s boots interrupted the goblin’s long thirsty guzzle. Surprise transformed to rage with a speed that would have make a cobra blush. The creature bellowed something in its own tongue as it arced back and catapulted the jug at the interloper. Scarecrow threw his rough shield up, only scarcely managing to block the impact of the heavy vessel. It shattered dousing his shield and boots in a clear liquid that smelled of strong alcohol and just a hint of turpentine.
Dripping with hooch, Scarecrow advanced a single step before raising his shield to deflect another missile. A jar of pickles erupted against his barrier. It was closely followed by a second and then a third. Between volleys, he managed a fleeting glance over the shield at the puff ball goblin. The creature, despite his rather stupid looking appearance, had deftly amassed a stockpile of jars, bottles, and jugs to serve as projectiles. With a manic howl, the goblin heaved a pint of pickled rhubarb at Scarecrow that sent him ducking behind his shield.
Eyes burning hellish crimson, Scarecrow charged, knocking back preserves and pickles alike. He swung hard with his sickle, but the puffed goblin proved more able than the others. In a swift fluid motion, the goblin dropped the jar and drew a long, notched dagger from his belt. He parried Scarecrow’s attack with the same motion. The veteran raider then shifted his weight to his front foot nimbler than a dancer and poured that momentum into a potent thrust.
The stab was not sloppy but poised and practiced. Scarecrow deflected it with his shield, but the force rattled up his arm. The goblin snarled with a mouth bristling with crooked needle teeth and quite suddenly, Scarecrow understood what the ridiculously puffed-up armor had been trying to tell him all along. He killed someone much larger than himself for it. If Scarecrow had been capable of sweat, it would have run cold.
He took a step around the edge of the table bringing himself closer to the goblin and swung again for the creature’s unarmored neck. With a deft step, the puffed goblin dipped and then lunged inside Scarecrow’s defenses. Scarecrow felt the sickening edge of the blade as it pieced the straw of his torso and thudded into the wooden frame within.
Confusion marred over the goblin’s otherwise perfect scowl. A cut like that would have killed any goblin or any man. A thrust like that would have earned him Urlfar’s helm. Yet, Scarecrow stood tall, almost looming, as the notched steel blade pulled back coated with nothing more than straw dust. The goblin stared into those hateful red eyes while his pulse played a dirge in his pointed ears.
Wrath swelled inside Scarecrow. He grabbed the contemptable thing by the collar and slammed it bodily onto the kitchen table. The goblin clawed frantically at the wooden arm that pinned it down as Scarecrow savored the blossoming panic. With a sharp tug, Scarecrow withdrew the dagger from his chest and carefully aligned it with the struggling creature’s throat. He watched the muscles tense and relax between desperate screams and gulping hysterical breaths. An impossibly wide grin spread across the rough flesh of his face. Then he began to cut.